Bombing of Stalingrad in World War II
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2008)|
At 3:18 pm on 23 August 1942 marked the initial bombing and the beginning of the battle for Stalingrad itself. The advance of the Axis troops was well known, but Stalin resisted the evacuation of civilians, in part due to the importance of the city's factories to the war effort. The virtually unopposed German bombers began bombing the city.
Units of Generaloberst von Richthofen’s Luftflotte 4 attacked the city. The extensive bombing caused numerous fires. The city was quickly turned to rubble, although some factories survived and continued production whilst workers militia joined in the fighting. In the first few hours of bombing, the headquarters of the city's air defences were bombed. Stalingrad was thereafter bombed block-by-block for a further five days.
The Heinkel 111 aircraft each carrying approximately 4400 lbs (2000 kg) of bombs attacked.
There were about 1,000 German bombers sorties undertaken in the initial attacks. Only 90 were shot down by the inadequate, yet determined Soviet fighters and 30 were hit by Anti-aircraft fire.
The Soviet Air Force in the immediate area lost 201 aircraft from 23-31 August, and despite meager reinforcements of some 100 aircraft in August, it had 192 servicable aircraft, which included 57 fighters. The burden of the initial defense of the city fell on the 1077th Anti-Aircraft (AA) Regiment.
Many civilians,with estimates up to 40,000 were killed, and the city was destroyed.According to Tatyana Prikazchikova, a senior research fellow of the Stalingrad Memorial, about 43,000 people were killed during the first days of the bombings. The civilians that survived were involved in preparing the defense of Stalingrad. However, the rubble caused by the bombing hampered the progress of the German tanks.